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First Fifty Years, The - The History of the Evangelical Movement of Wales
Noel Gibbard
ISBN: 9781850491910 (1850491917)Publication Date: January 2003
Publisher: Evangelical Press
Format: Hardback, 222x138 mm, 200 pages Language: English Out of print Our Price: £9.95   
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An English version of the first 50 years in the history of the Evangelical Movement of Wales, 1948-98, its theological and spiritual witness, significant campaigns, influential leaders and churches, translated from the original Welsh by Kitty Lloyd-Jones. 14 colour and 13 black-and-white photographs.

Fersiwn Saesneg o hanes hanner canrif cyntaf y Mudiad Efengylaidd yng Nghymru 1948-98, ei dystiolaeth ddiwinyddol ac ysbrydol, ymgyrchoedd arwyddocaol, arweinwyr ac eglwysi dylanwadol, wedi'i gyfieithu o'r Gymraeg gwreiddiol gan Kitty Lloyd-Jones. 14 llun lliw ac 13 llun du-a-gwyn.
Noel Gibbard has been an evangelical pastor and lecturer at the South Wales Bible College, so this history is written from an insider's point of view. Evangelical movements are not new; in the nineteenth century, evangelicism dominated religious thought and received a fresh impetus in Wales from the Revival in 1904. But Noel Gibbard is charting - as he says in the opening chapter 'The New Peace' - another revival, born of the post-war world. It has grown from small beginnings among a few soul-searchers: chiefly students at Cardiff and Bangor, who were influenced by the Inter-Varsity Fellowship and the Student Christian Movement, by pacificism and a distaste for the new liberal theology. The atmosphere they created is very much that of the early Methodist exhorters and the book is full of personal testimonies of receiving enlightenment.

It has to be said that, unless the reader is a fundamentalist, he/she may well find the self-induced anxieties of these well-intentioned people and the 'sins' they insisted they had committed - of pride mainly - no News of the World revelations here - annoying to read about rather than inspiring. Some of these perhaps overly-sensitive people made themselves hysterical at a retreat held at Dolgellau in 1948. Nevertheless, the movement continued to grow, and in a clear and simple style Noel Gibbard records its progress: its work at the National Eisteddfod, the establishing of its two journals, one in Welsh and later one in English, the annual camps they have organised, conferences, missionary work and the setting-up of several Christian bookshops.

In Chapter 7, 'The Faith Once Given', Gibbard explains the characteristics of evangelism. There are divisive elements to be found here: evangelicism caused many to abandon the already weakening chapels, for example. Also, some readers may find the anti-ecumenical stance offensive, particularly the derogatory remarks made about the Roman Catholic Church - invariably referred to as Papists and 'superstitious', for example in Chapter 9, 'Battles of the Faith'.

The book's appeal therefore will be mainly to already convinced evangelicals, who will value this record of achievement and to those who are curious to discover evangelical attitudes. It will certainly sadden the tolerant.
Sue Passmore

It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
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